Things to do in Tofino

The Best Things to do in Tofino: A 2-Day Adventure Itinerary

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There are so many things to do in Tofino. A weekend (or 2 days) in Tofino is just the right amount of time to experience everything this laid-back surf town has to offer. However, you might just find yourself wanting to stay a bit longer…

With an awe-inspiring coastline, relaxed atmosphere, and surprisingly impressive food scene, it’s easy to lose yourself in time and let the days roll on like the waves.

This 2-day itinerary will give you all the best things to do in Tofino, the best eateries, and more!

There is also helpful information on where to stay, the best guided tours, and how to get around.

Whether you’re in Tofino for 2 days or longer, it’s somewhere you should definitely visit whilst on Vancouver Island.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this Tofino travel guide!

Tofino - seaside paradise

BEST THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO

So, you’re wondering:

What is there to do in Tofino?

Use this 2-day Tofino itinerary for inspiration and to help plan your trip. You can navigate around the different attractions from here.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO – QUICK ITINERARY

Day 1:

Whale Watching | Surf on Chesterman Beach | Sunset BBQ

Day 2:

Tofitian | Scenic Flight | Cox Bay Lookout | Tofino Brewing Co

WHAT IS TOFINO FAMOUS FOR?

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino is famous for its wild and natural beauty.

Surrounded by the British Columbia rainforest, inlets, coves, lakes, and sandy beaches, it’s no wonder Tofino is such a popular year-round destination.

Tofino is Canada’s surfing capital, with some of the best swells on the west coast. With 35km of exposed coast, there are waves for all abilities.

Surfing isn’t the only popular outdoor activity that draws in visitors, though.

Tofino also boasts excellent hiking trails and wildlife viewing.

There are so many exciting things to do in Tofino…

You might just want to stay longer.

THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO ITINERARY – DAY 1

WHALE WATCHING BOAT TRIP

Whale watching is one of the most impressive things to do in Tofino
A Humpback whale off the West Coast

Whale watching is a must whilst on the West Coast and therefore naturally forms part of our itinerary for 2 days in Tofino.

You could see several types of whales including Orcas, Humpbacks, and Gray whales as well as different species of sea birds, seals, and other marine life.

You’ll also get to see the beauty of the surrounding islands and islets from the water whilst learning about the history of the area and the wildlife from your guide.

I was blown away by the whole experience.

One thing I particularly like about whale watching tours in Canada is the respect they have for the wildlife (generally speaking – it’s still important to research the company!). They commit to practicing safe, environmentally conscious whale watching. 

The result?

You get to see the whales in their natural environment, without feeling guilty about disrupting them. 

Seeing a whale in the wild is a truly magical experience and one that you’ll never forget.

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SURF ON CHESTERMAN BEACH

Surfing is one of the most popular things to do in Tofino

It would be wrong to go to Tofino and not try your hand at surfing.

Chesterman Beach is a fantastic place to surf for all levels. It’s a nice beach break, with long rolling waves.

It’s not uncommon to see instructors giving lessons here.

You can rent boards at any of the surf shops in town.

Try a soft-top if you’re new or still learning. Or better yet, book onto a lesson. It’s worth the money as the instructors will get you standing up and riding waves in no time.

Surfing - one of the most popular things to do in Tofino

To get to Chesterman beach:

Head south from Tofino on the Pacific Rim Highway and turn right on South Chesterman Road. 

There’s free parking available at the end of South Chesterman Road, as well as toilets, showers, and changing rooms.

SUNSET BBQ ON MACKENZIE BEACH

Having a fire on Mackenzie Beach was one of my favorite things to do in Tofino

What better way to celebrate a day out on the ocean than with a beach BBQ. Mackenzie beach is the perfect spot, and sunset is a perfect time.

The sunsets in Tofino are breathtaking.

Campfires are also allowed on the beach –  perfect for sitting around with your group, laughing about the day’s adventures, and soaking up the glorious colors of the sky.

Keep your campfire within the regulation size guidelines – it can’t be taller or wider than 2 feet (0.6 meters). You’re in a national park after all!

I like to use a portable gas BBQ – they’re worth the investment.  Disposable options aren’t eco-friendly.

Sunset on Mackenzie Beach - one of the best things to do in Tofino

Top tip

No obvious open alcohol is allowed on the beach… but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a few cold beers. 

Stow your alcohol in a cooler and take a reusable cup and the Bylaw allow you to drink on the beach. 

Don’t forget to take any trash with you when you leave!

THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO ITINERARY – DAY 2

COFFEE AT TOFITIAN

Tofitian was my favorite coffee spot in Tofino – a big statement for a town that seems to pride itself on decent independent caffeine vendors.

Excellent coffee. Great snacks and breakfast. Cool vibe.

You’ll find it a 5-minute drive out of Tofino, down the Pacific Rim Highway.

TAKE A SCENIC FLIGHT

Scenic Flight is one of the most popular things to do in Tofino

What better way to experience the overwhelming beauty of the Vancouver Island Pacific coastline than from the air?

The landscape around here really is breathtaking. And a view from the sky is unparalleled.

The Coast Tour with Tofino Air gives you an awe-inspiring view of the Clayoquot Sound (a body of water with countless inlets and islands).

It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen. I really do love this part of the world where the forest seems to rise straight up out of the ocean.

A scenic flight is one of the most impressive things to do in Tofino

Top Tip:

Keep your eyes peeled for black bears on land and orcas and whales in the ocean!

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HIKE UP TO THE COX BAY LOOKOUT

Hiking up to the Cox Bay Lookout is one of the best things to do in Tofino
Hiking up to the Cox Bay Lookout is one of the best things to do in Tofino

Cox Bay is well known for its surf and long sandy beach.

But that’s not all it has to offer…

With a bit of an adventurous scramble, you can reward yourself with one of the best views around.

This short hike is one of the few remaining Tofino Secrets.

The hike is located at the southern end of the beach – you can park at the Cox Bay parking and walk down the beach to where there is an obvious summit.

The trail is barely marked out and winds up through fairly dense shrubbery. You’ll also need to scramble over some large rocks at the start and the trail is best accessed at LOW tide as it starts from the beach.

  • Distance: 2.5 km
  • Time Required: 1 hour (including photography time at the top!)
  • Elevation: 400 m

Want more hikes?

Take a look at Tofino Trails.

TOFINO BREWING CO.

Sinking a cold beer from Tofino Brewing on the beach is the ultimate thing to do in Tofino in Summer

A trip to Tofino wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the impressive Tofino Brewing Co.

With a stylish and sleek interior and some tasty snacks, it’s an awesome place to enjoy a handcrafted, locally brewed pint.

You can take part in a tasting, try a flight of different ales or simply grab a six-pack for your campsite!

My personal favorite: 

The Kelp Stout (But it’s not for everyone!)

THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO ITINERARY MAP

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO

Got some extra time?

Here are some other things to do in Tofino:

  • Ucluelet – Also located in the Pacific Rim Natonal Park, approximately 40km from Tofino, Ucluelet is more than worthy of a day or afternoon. More of an ‘off the beaten path’ town than Tofino, Ucluelet – or ‘Ukee’ as it’s affectionately known by locals – is packed with outdoor activity and eco-tourism activities.
  • Surf at Long Beach – Iconic long beach is much as the name suggests – the longest beach on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Something of a surfer’s paradise.
  • Zip Lining – Tofino is an awesome place to zip line. Soaring above ancient rainforest and canyons is an unbelievable experience.

BEST EATERIES IN TOFINO

  • TacoFino – Trust me, you’ll get the hype once you’ve been
  • Wolf and Fog – Great food and drinks for dinner
  • Tofitian – Best coffee in Tofino
  • Rhino – Nice coffee spot in the centre – great bagels
  • Wildside Grill – UNBELIEVABLY good tuna burger

WHERE TO STAY IN TOFINO

There are a number of accommodation options available in Tofino ranging from camp spots to plush resorts.

I have 2 favorite places to stay.

For a bit of luxury, I love Ocean Village Resort.

The resort is made up of cozy beehive-style cabins and is located right on the beach. There’s also a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi – perfect for relaxing your muscles after a long day in the ocean!

Ocean Village Resort
Inside Ocean Village Resort

For an adventurous camping trip, Bella Pacifica Campground is second to none. Located right on Mackenzie beach, it’s the ideal spot to have a fire on the beach at sunset, before sneaking back to your tent.

Make sure to ask for a beachfront spot, it’s worth the extra $10!

Bella Pacifica Tofino
Camping in Tofino

TOFINO TRAVEL TIP

MY THOUGHTS ON TOFINO

I fell in love with Tofino. It was the kind of place I could imagine living for a Summer. 

OK, I’m partial to surf, but that’s not all that this place has to offer.

You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the beaches.

The town has a nice chilled-out atmosphere and the food scene is awesome. 

It’s a nice size, too. There’s a good amount going on; enough bars and hotspots to keep you occupied in the evening but not too big that it doesn’t still feel like an authentic surf village.

One of my favorite things about Tofino is the fact there are no chain franchises! In fact, the local municipality made a conscious effort to ban large-format retail and fast-food chains back in 2010 in order to preserve its laid-back character.

Let’s just say, it worked.

COSTS IN TOFINO

An itinerary of the best thins to do in Tofino

What you spend in Tofino depends completely on what you want to do.

For example, the more tours you go on, the more you will spend. These costs are non-essential, and you can take part in as many or as little as you like depending on your budget. 

The beach, on the other hand, is totally free.

Certain costs such as food, accommodation, and travel are non-negotiable.

Here’s a rough breakdown of essential travel costs in Tofino:

ACCOMODATION

Hotel room for 2: $150 – 300
Campsite Pitch for 2: $35 – 50 

LOCAL TRANSPORT

Bus: Free – $5
Bike rental: $35 / day
Bus from Nanaimo/Victoria: $60 – 80 return

Taxi Available: No (well there’s 1, apparently, but I didn’t see it)

EATING OUT

Dinner: $25
Take-out meal: $10 – 15

DRINKING

Beer in local bar/pub: $5
Beer in a high-end bar: $8
Wine: $10
A six-pack from the brewery: $15

HOW TO GET TO TOFINO

FERRY

To get from the BC mainland to Vancouver Island, you will need to sail with BC ferries.

There are 3 routes you can take:

  1. Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
  2. Tsawwassen to Duke Point (Nanaimo)
  3. Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria)

These routes can all be booked on the BC ferries website.

DRIVE

By far the easiest way to get to Tofino is to drive. Once on Vancouver Island, it’s roughly a 3-hour drive over to Tofino heading North West.

If you don’t have your own car, you have 2 options for rentals.

  1. Rent a car in Vancouver and take it on the ferry and then on to Tofino. This option is best if you want to visit anywhere else in the BC mainland.
  2. Board the ferry as a foot passenger and then rent a car in Nanaimo/Victoria and drive up to Tofino from there. This option tends to be slightly cheaper.

Check road conditions, weather alerts, delays, and construction that may affect your route on DriveBC.

FLY

The closest major airport to Tofino is Vancouver International Airport (YVR). However, as Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island you’ll still need to make your way onto the island (see driving below).

There are also 2 airports on the island – Nanaimo (YCD) and Comox (YQQ) – with daily flights here from Vancouver and Calgary.

BUS

There is a year-round bus service with daily departures from Nanaimo and Victoria with Vancouver Island Connector.

HOW TO GET AROUND TOFINO

As with getting to Tofino, the best way to get around once you arrive is by car. The village itself is very small, and you can easily wander the shops and cafes in an hour. However, many of the beaches, hikes, and other attractions are sprawled along the peninsula.

As such, the best way to get around is either by car or by bicycle.

You can rent bicycles from Tofino Bike Co for $35 per day.

BEST TIME TO VISIT TOFINO

Summer is the best time for things to do in Tofino

The weather in Tofino is considerably better in the Summer. 

Winter tends to bring A LOT of rain. If you plan to enjoy Tofino for all its natural beauty and want to spend a lot of time outdoors and/or camp, Spring/Summer would undoubtedly be the best time to visit.

What’s more, the ocean on the Pacific coast of Canada is hardly balmy at any time of year, but it’s a lot more bearable in Summer. Some days it’s even pleasant. And by pleasant I mean you won’t need a hood on your wetsuit or booties.

Summer also tends to be when the village is livelier with local events. There is a weekly market in town on Saturdays, for example.

That being said, Tofino is far from just a Summer destination.

Winter brings better surf and better whale-watching conditions. You also won’t have to battle with crowds at the local eateries and coffee shops!

HOW TO SAVE MONEY IN TOFINO

Any relevant money-saving tips:

  • Sightseeing pass
  • Advance booking
  • Transport card
  • Cheap ways to eat
  • Changing money

PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING TOFINO

  • Timezone: PST (GMT – 8hrs)
  • Currency: CAD
  • Power: In Canada, the power plugs are two-pronged like those in the US. The standard voltage is 120 V.
  • Internet Access: Most coffee shops and bars around Tofino offer WiFi. If you’re camping, WiFi is generally only available at the office.
    My advice?
    Use the time to get off the grid for a while…
  • Drinking Water: The tap water in Tofino is great.

Safety: Tofino village is extremely safe. It is a very small town with a real community feel. 

When swimming in the ocean in Tofino, it is important to be responsible and to enter with caution. 

The beaches in Tofino often pose water hazards such as large waves and rip currents. As such, it’s extremely important to obey any signs or warnings.

You can read more on this here.

FURTHER READING FOR THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO

To help you further plan your visit to Tofino, here are some useful resources:

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance is a must for any trip. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly, but it’s best not to take any chances. 

I recommend insurance from WorldNomads.com

Not only is it available to people from 140 countries, but you can buy a policy and even claim online after you’ve left. That means it’s never too late! 

Ensure you are covered for medical expenses, theft, cancellations, baggage loss, and activities.

THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO – PIN FOR LATER

The Best Things to do in Tofino: a 2-day adventure itinerary

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